Whether you are in charge of an entire company or of a team that is a part of that company, you need management skills. How does your decision-making reflect your management style? How does that style affect the ways things get done at your office? Let’s look at five basic management styles to see where you fit in.
The “I’m in charge” manager
You like to know everything that is going on and to keep it under your control. You are involved in all aspects of your business, and you prefer that your employees run any problems and decisions by you. You like to work with people who are strong in their opinions but who tend to think like you do.
Pros: You are efficient and hard-working and you really care about the company. You are usually a good communicator, and you are clear in your directions and your expectations. You are consistent, so your team is comfortable and knows what to expect from you.
Cons: You may be difficult to please, and you may tend to take over projects rather than delegate them to others. Perhaps you are a workaholic. You may have trouble keeping people in upper management positions because they feel stymied.
The “You’re in charge” manager
When you give someone a job to do, you expect her to take the ball and run with it. You like to surround yourself with independent-minded people who require little back and forth communication from you. You pride yourself on finding these people and keeping them happy and part of your team.
Pros: Your team-members feel you trust them and value their opinions and ideas. You are clear and decisive when it comes to making decisions.
Cons: Employees may feel they cannot come to you with a question. In an effort to empower your team members, you may actually make them feel disenfranchised.
The “We’re in charge” manager
You are the classic team player kind of leader. You like to get in there and work alongside your team, bouncing around ideas and even hanging out after work with them. You ask for and accept ideas and suggestions freely and will change your mind when you feel it is best for the team’s morale.
Pros: You tend to be friendly and personable and you take an active interest in your employees and in their likes and dislikes. As a result, your employees feel valued and appreciated.
Cons: Sometimes you lose respect and authority when you are too much “one of the guys.” In trying to please everyone, you may get caught in the trap of pleasing no one, including yourself.
The “No one is in charge” manager
You tend to be very relaxed about decision-making. You take your time, get plenty of input and think things through carefully, often putting off decisions for as long as you can. Sometimes you handle things yourself, and sometimes you ask others to make important decisions for you.
Pros: You are level-headed and calm and think before reacting negatively to any potential problem. Your workplace is often a low-key and pleasant place to be as a result.
Cons: Your laissez-faire style may not make you enemies but it may lose you customers and accounts. Also, some employees may take advantage of your style and make some decisions without consulting you. Others may take advantage of your easy-going nature by not accomplishing much work at all.
The “I’m not sure who’s in charge” manager
You tend to swing between the different management styles depending on the project, your schedule and how the wind blows you on that particular day. You are unpredictable.
Pros: You tend to be creative and free with ideas. You have a tendency to sit back and watch how things are going, waiting to add your two cents when it can help the most. You are flexible and willing to put in extra hours and/or efforts when needed.
Cons: Your team may be cautious around you to the point of not doing their best work in fear that you will swoop in and change things after they are done. Your team members may feel that you don’t trust them.
Most of us don’t fit neatly into one of these styles but are a composite of at least two of them. Hopefully, now you have a better idea of where you fit in the spectrum, but how can that knowledge help make you a better manager?
“The way that we manage – our management style – is a mixture of conceptual skills and interpersonal factors. When you understand those skills and factors, how they fit together and how (and whether) they can be developed, it is possible to assess your own strengths and weaknesses and devise a strategy for improving your own management style,” says Robert C. Benfari, author of the book Understanding and Changing Your Management Style.
Google’s 2009 study, Project Oxygen, gathered over 10,000 observations about managers from performance reviews, feedback surveys and other documents. The statisticians then spent time coding the reports, looking for patterns. The study identified the following characteristics of a poor manager:
- has trouble making a transition to an existing team
- lacks a consistent approach
- spends too little time communicating
The bottom line is that a good manager knows how to put together the right people and then knows how to work with them and how to get out of their way. Depending on your business and each individual project, it is up to you as a manager to set a consistent tone. By knowing more about how you make decisions for your firm — your management style — you will learn more about yourself and, ultimately, will become a stronger and more confident manager of others.
Bryant, Adam, Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss, The New York Times, March 3, 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/business/13hire.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1381869177-blw4jgKXXP78cIEtzbAnFg
Benfari, Robert. Understanding and Changing Your Management Style. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999. Print.